For work and office, the Oxford was still the only men’s 1930s shoe; however, it became much fancier in the 1930s. Brogue, or small perforated holes, appeared all over the shoes. Some featured just a design on the toe, while others just around the edging. By the mid 1930s, brogueing was all over the body. These tiny holes allowed air to flow through, keeping men’s feet nice and cool in the summer. White shoes were especially popular in summer. Two-tone shoes increased in popularity in both summer and winter for sport and dress.
The shape of the toe changed over the years. In the early 30s the square two oxford was classy. Both solid colors (brown or black) as well as two-tone brown/cream and black/cream combinations offered for sale. Men wore them with business suits and casual attire equally.
The almond toe replaced the square two around 1933. It contrasted with the very wide men’s trousers. One shoe, called a mocassin top dress shoe kept a round blunt nose shape throughout the decade. It was sometimes seen as a sportier or more casual shoe then fancy wingtips and cap toe oxfords.
The most casual shoes were two-tone brown/white saddles shoes. They were usually worn to play sports or with casual clothing. The saddle was a center patch of a dark color over a white body. Other two-tone combinations emerged in the later years such as dark brown on saddle brown or black on blue. The crepe sole was also a popular alternative to plain rubber soles. Read more about he history of saddle shoes.
Two-tone 1930s men’s shoes came in other styles and colors. Grey and black was on trend in the fall and winter. Blue and white and even green and white were novelty summer shoes that didn’t stay in fashion for too long. The difference between two-tone shoes in the 1930s compared to the 20s, 40s and 50s is the amount of white. 1930s mens shoes favored a heavy dose of white pattern blocking with minimal darker wingtips, saddles, and edging.
All white shoes were more popular in the 1930s than in any other decade. Especially when paired with white or grey linen summer suits they looked clean and expensive. They required daily cleaning and polishing to keep them spotless. Most white shoes had brown soles. Wingtips, cap toes, brogue, moccasin, and “Trouser crease” designs all came in white. In winter they were replaced with solid black or brown.
Brogue and wingtip Oxfords are the easiest shoes to find today and the most vintage in style for your ’30s wardrobe. Shop here for some great ’30s men’s shoes.
1930s Men’s Sport Shoes
In the 1930s, casual men’s shoes were introduced. The moccasin or loafer shoe for cool weather and the leather sandal for summertime became fashionable. Two-toned patterns of brown and white or black and white moved from the stiff Oxford and brogue to the casual sports shoes.
Rubber soled shoes, such as Keds, came about in the 1930s as well. These casual shoes had a sporty look with a comfortable feel. Keds came in all sorts of solid and two tone color combinations in suede or canvas materials. The crepe sole added more bounce in the step. Amazingly 1930s Keds don’t look much different than men’s classic Keds shoes today with the exception of a thicker sole.
Another sport shoe for actually playing sports like Basketball or football was the high top sneaker. “Skips” were a cheaper brand of the original Converse high top shoe that came in all white. 1930s high tops came in brown leather, black leather, two tones and white. Low top canvas or leather sneakers were a less popular but available option.